- Chris Low, College Football
- 0 Shares
NEW ORLEANS -- When John Calipari entered the Kentucky locker room Saturday night in the prelude to what would be a second consecutive Big Blue stampede in the NCAA tournament, he found his players gathered around the television.
"We were trying to steal a peek at the Kansas game," freshman guard John Wall admitted.
They got to see about a minute of the game before Calipari made sure the television was off. All they knew was that Kansas was losing. They said they didn't find out that the Jayhawks had lost until after their 90-60 demolition of Wake Forest at New Orleans Arena.
"Oh … I wonder which team is going to be favored now," said freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins, trying his best to sport a quizzical look.
Surely, it will be the Wildcats, who've won their first two games be a combined 59 points while shooting better than 50 percent from the field in both games and handing out a combined 48 assists.
"Probably," he said.
Is that all right with you, DeMarcus?
"I don't care. I liked it when they hated us," he said. "We're going to go play, but I love being the bad guy."
If these guys are feeling the pressure of their first voyage through the NCAA tournament, they're not showing it.
If anything, they seem to be soaking it up.
The television was on full blast in the Kentucky locker room after the game, and there was very little chatter about the Kansas upset.
The place went wild when Eric Bledsoe's tomahawk dunk in the second half flashed up on the screen. Even Calipari came rushing over to see if they had shown it yet.
"Here it goes, here it goes," said Wall, leaning back in his chair in anticipation. "Yes sir!"
Sophomore guard Darius Miller, who led the Wildcats with a career-high 20 points, marveled that it was one of the best dunks he'd ever seen.
"It has to be No. 1 on the Top 10 plays," he said.
A few minutes later, ESPN college basketball analyst Digger Phelps popped up on the screen.
Every one of the players swarmed to the television then.
"What's he going to say about us now?" somebody yelled.
Nobody could really hear what Phelps did say, but what goes unsaid is that this is a ridiculously talented basketball team playing at the top of its game when it matters most.
And even though they don't talk much about it publicly, there's a real sense of urgency among the freshmen that this will be their one and only chance to win a national championship.
The NBA beckons.
"We all look at it like that," Wall said. "Me, Patrick (Patterson) and coach (Calipari) at the beginning of the season said, 'This might be the only year that all of us play together, our only chance to do something special. Let's make it happen.' "
The only pothole Saturday night came when Wake Forest senior center Chas McFarland – who has a rep for playing not so nice – cross-checked Cousins to the floor with just under 10 minutes to play and Kentucky leading by 30 points.
McFarland was hit with an intentional foul, and Kentucky's Daniel Orton was hit with contact technical foul for coming to Cousins' aid.
"That wasn't even basketball," said Cousins, who was 9-of-10 from the field for 19 points and eight rebounds. "He was doing a lot of cheap things. I caught an elbow to the jaw from him earlier in the game. He's a dirty player. The whole world knows it, especially after tonight."
Something else the whole basketball world knows is that these Wildcats are going to be hard to beat if they keep shooting this well. It's a given they're going to play defense and rebound.
But if they make their 3-pointers and keep spreading the wealth on offense with guys like Miller pumping in 20 points, look out.
"It's going to be impossible to do anything about it," Cousins said.
Wake Forest coach Dino Gaudio wouldn't necessarily disagree.
"I've been in the ACC 10 years," Gaudio said. "That's as good a basketball team as we've played against in the 10 years I've been here."
For the record, that includes four national championship teams – Duke in 2001, Maryland in 2002 and North Carolina in 2005 and 2009.
A wild, series-saving win at home is just a sign of good things on the horizon in Milwaukee.
Marc Gasol had 25 points and the Grizzlies took a 3-0 lead in their playoff series over the Trail Blazers by withstanding a late Portland rally for a 115-109 victory.
Demetrious Johnson worked over Kyoji Horiguchi before submitting him in the final second of Round 5 at UFC 186.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets around Camden Yards Saturday to demand answers in the case of Freddie Gray, the largest rally since the 25-year-old black man died in police custody.
Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko was not at his devastating best, but he still cruised to a lopsided decision against Bryant Jennings to retain the title for the 18th time.
Mark Sanchez doesn't seem worried about Tim Tebow's presence on the roster, calling him "another guy to throw while [Sam Bradford] is still recovering."
A powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 1,500, collapsing modern houses and ancient temples and triggering a landslide on Mount Everest.
The NBA has fined Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle $25,000 for publicly criticizing the officials after Friday night's Game 3 loss to the Rockets.
A gutsy effort by the Islanders helped them stay alive and force a Game 7 in what is becoming an increasingly contentious series.
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay play GM for all 32 NFL teams, alternating mock draft picks for the first three rounds of the 2015 draft.
Brook Lopez had 22 points and 13 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets beat Atlanta 91-83 on Saturday to cut the Hawks' lead to 2-1 in the Eastern Conference series.
Stephen Curry hit six 3-pointers during a 39-point night, and the Warriors cruised to a victory over the Pelicans to complete a first-round sweep.
Five title sponsors of the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao megafight had to pony up record amounts of money to get in on the action.
Olympic gold medalist and reality show star Bruce Jenner said that "for all intents and purposes, I am a woman" in an interview broadcast Friday night.
The Texas Rangers are nearing a trade with the Los Angeles Angels to bring back outfielder Josh Hamilton, a source confirmed to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver expects the NBA to explore rule changes at upcoming meetings that would address rampant use of Hack-a-Shaq strategy that slows games and hurts entertainment value.
The NBA says a foul should have been called on Stephen Curry's 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left in regulation Thursday night.
On the final day of the first week of the Dallas Cowboys' offseason program, Greg Hardy and Davon Coleman had to be separated by teammates following an on-field argument, sources said.
There's reality TV, and then there's something real. And Bruce Jenner's announcement Friday that he self-identifies as a transgender woman is one brave declaration.
After receiving the Nancy Lieberman Lifetime Achievement Award in Dallas recently, Tony Romo made a reference to bringing the Cowboys their first Super Bowl since 1995.
Jerryd Bayless catching Derrick Rose napping to hit the game winner is the top play in the NBA.
Oklahoma State was placed on one-year probation by the NCAA for not following its drug testing policy and allowing a student group to engage in impermissible activities during recruiting visits.
If you are a college football coach in America, consider yourself cordially invited to attend Michigan's high school camp this summer.
Weather disrupted NASCAR's top series for a second consecutive week when Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race was postponed because of persistent rain at Richmond International Raceway.